The state of discrepancy and vehicle extravaganza was revealed by a report of the DSCC’s transport department and a detailed report of official vehicles of the DNCC.
Besides, officials and drivers concerned of both city corporations’ transport pools also confirmed the matter.
When asked about the use of two vehicles, DSCC CEO Farid Ahmed told Prothom Alo he is entitled to round-the-clock transport privilege. Two vehicles and two drivers are for him.
On the same day, this correspondent talked to Enayet Khan, driver of the second vehicle allotted to the CEO, around 1:30pm.
He said he is now at the CEO’s residence in Mohammadpur with the vehicle and his responsibility is to drive it for the CEO’s wife.
When this correspondent informed the CEO over the matter the CEO Farid Ahmed, at one point of his conversation, said will the wife of a secretary ride on a rickshaw?
Records of the DNCC show the vehicle which the CEO uses is allotted to his name and the one his wife uses is attached with the CEO office.
Sources said wife of the CEO uses the second vehicle and such was the practice during the tenure of the previous the CEOs. People concerned, however, said no matter how old the practice is it is a corruption.
What the rules are
Officials of the undivided Dhaka City Corporations (DCC) used the transport facility according to the Table of Organogram and Equipment (TO&E) that states which official is entailed to what transportation facility in accordance with their designation.
But no new TO&E was formulated after the DCC was split into two in 2011. And, it is mandatory to take approval from the government to formulate any new TO&E list.
According to the list approved in 1990, only mayor is entitled to use a vehicle round the clock. CEO, chief engineer, additional chief engineer, three supervising engineers and chief revenue officer can have a car each for official purposes.
Personal secretary, public relations officer, personal assistant and assistant revenue officer together can use a car. Other than that, there will be 13 SUVs for engineering departments, one SUV each for mobile court, health and mosquito control department, emergency use by transport pool and three pick-up vans for the street light maintenance and estate department.
According to TO&E list, there will be three microbuses and two staff buses for transporting the officials.
State of Dhaka South City
After analysing the report of the DSCC’s transport department and the list of the officials entitled to vehicle facilities, it was found city corporation officials are enjoying vehicle privileges even though they are not entitled to it.
City corporation secretary Akramuzzaman, mayor's personal secretary Md Marufur Rashid Khan, regional executive officers Suye Men Joe and Shahidul Islam, chief urban planner Sirajul Islam, law officer Khairul Hasan, and chief store and procurement officer Alimun Rajib use SUV each.
Regional executive officer Shakhawat Hossain Sarkar uses a car while regional executive officers Marina Nazneen, Haider Ali and Babar Ali Mir, chief estate officer Russell Sabrin and chief accounting officer Moon Hawladar use a double cabin pickup each.
DSCC officials with relatively low rank also enjoy vehicle privilege. System analyst Abu Tayab Rokon, deputy chief revenue officer Md Shah Jahan Ali, protocol officer Md Daud Hosssian and estate officer Md Moniruzzamn are among them.
This correspondent talked to several officials enjoying such privileges. The officials claimed they received the vehicles from the city corporations and none of them applied for it.
DSCC’s social welfare and slum development officer, also senior assistant secretary of the public administration ministry, Akand Mohammad Faisal uses a SUV. He claimed he uses the vehicle to visit various community centres of the city corporation.
DSCC sources said Akand Mohammad Faisal used the vehicle all the time. As per the rules of the public administration ministry, a deputy secretary becomes eligible for an interest free car loan after three years of service. On the contrary, a senior assistant secretary on deputation at the city corporation has been using a SUV.
Personal secretary of DNCC mayor Shah Mozaddid Uddin also uses a SUV. He told Prothom Alo he is entitled to have a vehicle against his position. But records show no vehicle is allotted to an official of this status.
State of the Dhaka North City
There are many officials of the Dhaka North City Corporation using vehicles despite not being entitled to it. They are DNCC’s secretary Mohammad Masud Alam Siddique, chief estate officer Mozammel Haque, chief store and purchase officer Ramendra Nath Biswas, general manager (transport) Mizanur Rahman, chief social welfare and slum development officer Mohammad Mamun-ul-Hasan, regional executive officers Zulkar Nain, Ziaur Rahman, Abdullah Al Baki and Abed Ali, chief urban planner Maqsood Hashem, law officer Tasnuva Nastaran, system analyst Tuhinul Islam, revenue officer Sanwar Hossain, deputy chief revenue officer Moniruzzaman Mridha and estate officer Al-Bashirul Islam are among them.
They all use SUV. They claimed the city corporation gave them the vehicles and they use it. Why have these officials been provided with vehicles?
In reply to this query, DNCC CEO Selim Reza told Prothom Alo vehicles have been allotted to the officials for the sake of the city corporation’s operation. All vehicle privileges cannot be revoked overnight.
He claimed an initiative has been taken for the approval of rules related to allotting vehicle after updating it. People concerned, however, said allocation of vehicle before approval is illegal.
The CEO of DNCC, according to the city corporation’s TO&E, is entitled to the privilege of having a car whereas CEO Selim Reza uses a luxurious SUV.
‘Bribing’ with four vehicles
Prothom Alo contacted various departments of both city corporations to find answers as to how vehicles are being procured regularly and allotted to officials to run the city corporations without taking the approval. Officials claimed they took approval showing the demand of vehicles to the local government ministry. The activities of city corporation have increased so additional vehicles are necessary.
People concerned said the government would fix how many vehicles are necessary and who would receive it. No government agency can use vehicle without the approved TO&E, former additional secretary of public administration and services rules expert Firoz Mia observed.
He told Prothom Alo an agency would first prepare a TO&E and then send it to the respective ministry. It will then be forwarded to finance ministry.
Once the finance ministry approves, it will then be placed at the secretaries committee. And for the officials with grade III or above, the TO&E will be placed for the consent of the the prime minister. After following these procedures, the respective ministry will then issue government order.
Rules are not followed to allot vehicles to most of the officials at both city corporations. Instead both city corporations have provided two vehicles each totaling four for the use of the officials at the local government division (LGD) under the local government, rural development and co-operatives ministry.
According to sources, cost on fuel, maintenance and drivers' salary of these vehicles comes from the corporations’ fund. People concerned said this is in fact bribery so that the ministry raises no question over the procurement and the use of the vehicles.
It has been learned that joint secretary of LGD’s Urban Development Wing-1 Mohammad Nure Alam Siddique uses one of the vehicles given by the DSCC. The Urban Development Wing oversees the city corporations’ affairs.
Asked on the use of the city corporation’s vehicle, the official said it has been a practice for long. Whether such practice flouts the rules; in reply, he said, "Of course, it does.”
Vehicles under interest free loan and also from city corporations
In 2017, the government started providing Tk 3 million (30 lakh) in car loan with no interest to officials with the rank of deputy secretary or above. Once a vehicle is purchased, an official also receives Tk 50,000 for fuel and maintained cost.
According to the rules, an official gets a vehicle from the office will receive Tk 25,000 instated of Tk 50,000 for fuel and maintained cost of the vehicle purchased under interest free loan. However, the vehicle purchased under interest free loan will have to be used for communicating to the workplace.
The public administration ministry on 3 November 2019 issued a circular containing these instructions. The circular also stated several officials carry out such irregularities in using the government vehicles that constitute an offence under the jurisdiction of misconduct and corruption.
Sources said many officials have been transferred to the two city corporations on deputation. Many of them purchased vehicles taking interest free loan from the government. Fifteen officials at DNCC have bought vehicles under interest free loan.
The DSCC did not reply to the written query on how many of its officials bought vehicles enjoying this privilege. A portion of the officials enjoy both privileges – one under interest free car loan and another from the city corporation flouting the rules. And the government has to spend Tk 25,000 for each of them.
Discrepancies in fuel
The public administration ministry, earlier named as the establishment ministry, issued a circular titled ‘use of fuel in government vehicles’ on 13 April 2010. It stated an official entitled to vehicle privilege can use 200 litres of fuel a month. Fuel cost will reduce by 10 per cent on the weekend -- Friday and Saturday – unless there is any administrative work. Yet, vehicles of both Dhaka city corporations are being used flouting rules and fuel is spent willfully.
Records of the DSCC’s transport department show the DSCC CEO uses 850 litres of fuel for his vehicle in September and his family uses 750 litters of fuel for another one. DSCC mayor’s personal secretary Marufur Rashid Khan used 780 litres of fuel. Most of the officials spent fuel over 400 litres a month.
According to vehicle related website CarDekho.com the mileage of a Mitsubishi Pajero SUV is 13.5km a litre. However, the DSCC’s mechanical department source said the mileage of the city corporation’s Mitsubishi Pajero SUB is about 7km a litre in Dhaka city. So, a vehicle can move 5,950km using 850 litres of fuel a month with an average movement of 198km a day.
Records of the DNCC’s transport department show DNCC CEO Selim Reza and chief waste management officer Commodore M Saidur Rahman use 540 litres of fuel a month. Each of the remaining officials uses more or less 400 litres of fuel a month.
Officials claimed the city corporations are service providing agencies and they have to move here and there to provide services. That is why vehicle consumes more fuel. However, people concerned claimed a big portion of fuel is stolen. As the officials use the drivers for family purposes, the former do not raise voice against stealing the fuel.
Purchasing vehicle not stopping
Officials said the DSCC and DNCC have 75 and 66 light vehicles respectively that the officials use. Yet, the tendency to purchase new vehicle does not seem to be ended. The DSCC purchased five SUVs and five double cabin pickup four months ago. Sources said the air-conditioned pickups have been converted and those are given to the officials.
According to the DSCC officials, after taking the office incumbent mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh have taken initiative to stop extravaganza of vehicles and the wilful use of fuel.
Officials said an eight-member committee has been formed recently with the agency’s secretary as convenor so that rules are followed to use the officials’ vehicles. Besides, mayor also formed another committee to control the use of fuel.
Like the city corporations, vehicles are also allegedly been used at various government offices and agencies flouting rules. A report was published in Prothom Alo on 27 August 2021 on the irregularities in the use of vehicles in the 'Safe Horticultural Crops Production and Post Harvest Technology' project of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).
According to the reports, the wife of the project director uses the government vehicle. Three vehicles of the project have been given to the officials of the agriculture ministry.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Iftekharuzzaman said this incident makes two things clear. There is no internal control and accountability at the city corporations. Those who are responsible for ensuring accountability are involved in irregularities.
To give car loan without interest and then again provide vehicles from the respective agency is the institutionalisation of corruption. It is immoral and abuse of power to purchase luxury vehicles by putting the burden of expenditure on the people and it is also a corruption, he added.
This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna